Tanner McEvoy Showing Signs Of Being The Leader The Badgers Need Him To Be


We are two weeks into the 2014 college football season. It has been both curious and frustrating to witness for Badgers fans. Wisconsin blew a massive lead against LSU on national television and then proceeded to barely score in the first half against Western Illinois. Tanner McEvoy, Wisconsin’s new starting quarterback job, has been about as inconsistent as possible. Alas, the Badgers are 1-1 and still have the best road to the Big Ten Conference Championship Game in Indianapolis. Although Nebraska fans are thinking the same about the ‘Huskers.

Hold onto that Badgers fans, there is still a lot to play for this year.

It seems as though McEvoy turned a corner in the second half against Western Illinois. Sure, it was only Western Illinois, but it’s a step in the right direction. He started that game off with an interception and the online community, namely Twitter, began murmuring for sophomore quarterback to replace McEvoy as starter.

Sep 6, 2014; Madison, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Tanner McEvoy (5) throws a pass during the second quarter against the Western Illinois Leathernecks at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

But then McEvoy showed us all why he won the starting quarterback job and why Gary Andersen loves his playing style so much. Wisconsin won its 30th consecutive non-conference home game on the arm and legs of McEvoy. After the interception he showed immense mental toughness and ended up passing for 283 yards and three touchdowns. At one point he completed 17 passes in a row. Who would have believed that statistic after the LSU game? He also ran for 55 yards on nine carries and one score. That’s a pretty complete game for quarterback and McEvoy really needed it after week one. He’s becoming the leader the Badgers need and he showed poise not letting the doubters and naysayers get to him.

Teams have to respect his running ability, but now for the rest of the season they have to respect the passing game as well. No longer will teams be able to load up the box to try and stop Melvin Gordon and Wisconsin’s rushing attack. Don’t get me wrong, they’ll try, but McEvoy has shown that he can beat teams through the air if they do.

"“It seemed like everybody and their mama was in that box,” Gordon said after the game in which he rushed for only 38 yards on 17 carries."

Western Illinois was convinced that McEvoy couldn’t lead Wisconsin to victory via the passing game. The Leathernecks figured if they stopped Gordon then they had a chance. But they were wrong (37-3 final score). McEvoy took the next step that he had to take as the Badgers’ starting quarterback. He showed that he can successfully lead this team, even when Gordon has a sub par game when teams stack the box and dare Wisconsin to throw. If he can continue to develop as a passer as the year goes on, this offense could really come into its own.

This offense could really begin to thrive now that McEvoy has found a new favorite target in sophomore Alex Erickson. He seems like the real deal on the outside and adds a much-needed element to this potentially potent offense. Erickson caught 10 passes for 122 yards and one score in week two.

Wisconsin has awhile before its biggest games of the year against Iowa, Nebraska, and Minnesota, but it will have to be better if it wants to win all three. If it can, Bucky could be undefeated in conference play heading into the Big Ten Conference Championship game. The Badgers could then punch their ticket to the Rose Bowl in Indy for the third time.

But it all depends on McEvoy — it always has. Fortunately he seems to have found his game. He’s an incredibly athletic dual-threat quarterback that compliments the Badgers’ premier running game perfectly — when on. Will he continue to develop? Time will tell.